couple of years before your grandfather was born I suppose that’s when Holly first fell onto that fence. Ate shit one day when the snow was up around her legs and when she went to get up — well, there it was. A tangle of barbed wire been pulled from its post, curling up thru the snow and now thru Holly’s poor red leg. Gosh, I remember my dad said they could hear her holler from over on the other side of the ridge, two properties over at the Wayne’s. She screamed & pulled & — well, she was just a little girl then, not enough sense to stay put or take a look at how to get the barb outta her. She thrashed & writhed, Holly arced like something electric and that bit of wire got so wrapped up in & around thru her and the snow pooled cherry round the fence and her little face never did stop scrunching like a lemon taste, how hard she screamed got her stuck that way. Well, they heard her screaming but it’s a long walk out there to the edge of the old Smith property, especially during a storm like that and it took them maybe half the day just to find her once she stopped yelling. Ooooh, and by that point they had to go get the doctor and really, he was quite busy with all the folks who’d gone and slipped on the ice that day and he’d had enough doctoring for the week by the time they pulled up to his house, so once they’d gotten anyone out there to see what to do about the wire, Holly’d been bleeding since last Tuesday. All the folks been bringing her bits of food, and I’m sure by then a few fellas decided she’d been thru enough to warrant a stiff drink or two young tho she was, and by the time doc came to have a look she wasn’t cold any more in the dried brown snow what smelled like a US mint & had men gagging when they came to offer whiskey. Well, the doctor came up to see what could be done and Holly wasn’t too concerned I guess, didn’t even look at the man when he touched & turned her knee and when he had to run off & heave down by the next post, well I guess more than a few of the men had already pulled that maneuver. Now, the doc said I’d reckon Holly we gotta take the leg. And he said it looking at her face so she’d look at him not down and she was little thing & a wild one but still it struck him cold when she didn’t look a little scared. She nodded & said I reckon you sure do, and old Ginnie Smith thought well it was her land so it was her responsibility what went down on it, and she agreed to sit with them hold the little girl still. Someone brought something a little stronger and they did their best to heat some water and all that. But when doc took that toothy creature and bit her leg, could barely draw blood— cut down & scraped through her and it looked like they were getting somewhere, and I suppose that made it all the more nervsome when the saw screamed harsh against metal, not half-inch into the poor girls leg. They tried all around & all angles — wire up in girl’s leg bent saw to smithereens. Doc grabbed his other saw and tried further up and the wire was further up. All the way at her hip, wasn’t nothing could be done. they tried cutting the barb but wire cutters broke like they were putty and the wire was, well, it was hard & fast as the day Ginnie hammered the staples into the post. Doc lay down in snow and said no more. Ginnie held that girls hand hard as she could, white as clean sky skating by, but Holly didn’t flinch. The girl said guess you tried well good doc, and I’m sorry to be imposing Gin, but what can ya do. Ginnie figured you couldn’t evict a girl who could no means get up & go, and anyway, she was right by the edge of the property so Gin guessed she wouldn’t be a bother. The men left their whiskey and wished Holly the best, and old Ginnie Smith tipped her hat & turned tail — after all one has responsibilities of her own and can’t go taking every little girl under her wing. Now, I guess you’ve heard all about the doctor and how he laid there despairing in the snow, face in cold wet until the night fell and the cold got colder. I suppose we’ve all heard the sing of saw on barb when wind picks up, seen his red face up against us when cold stings out in the fields. I guess he must of pulled his face up eventually, red from where Holly had laid and seeing her thru her own blood in his eyes they say he finally screamed & whined like his saw against metal insides And well, there are all kinds of stories about what happened, but I gotta figure they’re downright old wives tales or just silly stuff children tell to get frightened, as no one saw doc after that and we got no one to ask but Holly, and, well. Once a man joins the whiskey bottles at your feet I figure you don’t got much choice but drink him up, but that’s just old man’s trying to make sense of it all. Well, we kept going up to bring her drink or two, you know how cold it can get up there and all, and she kept thanking us. Snow melted away slushed into the ground and Holly’s leg stayed up in that frayed barbed wire, grown in and around it and her other leg stayed by the ground and well, grass and all that started grow over it as it will grow over any thing that waits long enough. Holly grew a woman with I suppose only the company of cows what wandered far enough out & Ginnie every once a moon or two going round to check make sure the fence wasn’t broken, & later Ginnie’s son, you know, Hank, good boy, & the folks from town who’d come up the hill with a bottle, & some of the girls began to find good luck watering the grass by leg curled up around like twisted bark So they’d trek up with a couple glasses & a can and look into her scrunched scream face, maybe lug up their folks’ old wire cutters to see if they could snip Holly free & make a bride of barb wire beauty. Now that wire’s mighty dangerous to handle and it don’t like getting messed with, so I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that taking blades to fence never brought nothing but trouble on those poor young fools, I mean, even Hank won’t go near the fence anymore. It doesn’t rust, posts stay high upright, from up on that ridge it seems to go on forever East & West over scrubby land. They say Osage Orange don’t grow too well out here but I say what else you gonna use? Gonna mess with the devil’s rope when we of all people know how deep that spitting snake can gouge? Huh, fools all around this town. You lay at Holly’s feet, ask stone woman what she knows of land, well, you’ll be singing one thing tomorrow that’s for sure, that’s all I can say. One thing for sure you’ll be singing.